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Ooh La La : 'Les Miz,' 'La Cage Aux Folles' top Straz Broadway series

Million Dollar Quartet and the revival of La Cage Aux Folles top the 2011-12 Broadway season at the Straz Center.

The schedule, released Wednesday, lacks a blockbuster to anchor the season and play multiple weeks, a big hit musical such as Billy Elliot or Jersey Boys or The Lion King. (Billy Elliot opened this week at the center.) The only show that will run more than a week is the 25th anniversary production of Les Miserables.

Blue Suede Shoes, Great Balls of Fire and Hound Dog are among the hillbilly classics in Million Dollar Quartet, which documents a 1956 recording session in Memphis that brought together Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

La Cage Aux Folles won the 2010 Tony Award for best musical revival for its Broadway production starring Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge; casting for the tour has not been announced. Another starry Broadway production, The Addams Family, with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, has done good business despite mixed reviews; its tour cast is to be announced.

The Straz season also includes a pair of dance musicals. Come Fly Away had a disappointing Broadway run, but director-choreographer Twyla Tharp's dance numbers inspired by Frank Sinatra songs has appeal. Burn the Floor features ballroom dancing.

A Christmas Story: The Musical is a new stage production from the 1983 movie, with a book by Joseph Robinette and score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. And 48-year-old Cathy Rigby again will play the boy who won't grow up in Peter Pan, which has been through the bay area several times over the past 20 years.

There are some interesting new shows on tour that haven't made it to the Tampa venue, which has one of the country's biggest Broadway series. Memphis, which won the Tony last year for best musical, is playing Ruth Eckerd Hall in February 2012. The rock musical Next to Normal, winner of the Tony for best original score in 2009 and the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2010, is not routed to Florida.

Here's the 2011-12 schedule: Oct. 18-23: The Addams Family; Nov. 8-13: Peter Pan; Dec. 6-11: A Christmas Story; Jan. 3-8: Million Dollar Quartet; Jan. 31-Feb. 12: Les Miserables; Feb. 21-26: La Cage aux Folles; March 27-April 1: Come Fly Away; April 24-29: Burn the Floor. Information: (813) 229-7827 or toll-free 1-800-955-1045; strazcenter.org.

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Gaspar: A Pirate Fantasy, which had two performances Sunday at the Straz, raised $60,000 for Tampa Bay charities, including the Red Cross, Operation Homefront and Drew's Shoes. Presenters say the ballet will return for Gasparilla in 2012.

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New American Theater, a startup company in St. Petersburg, has scaled back its season. In October, the company staged Pump Boys and Dinettes, at the Palladium Theater, where it planned to perform other musicals. Now it will do cabaret shows at its BayWalk location.

"It's a difficult economic time for everyone and giving is down,'' producing artistic director Brian Becker said in a news release. "We are making adjustments to reduce our production costs and use the funds we have more effectively.''

The revamped schedule includes a Patsy Cline cabaret Feb. 11, a Valentine's Day love song revue and Songs for a New World, a William Finn musical slated to open at the end of March. Information: (727) 575-9241; newamericantheater.org.

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8716.

Ooh La La : 'Les Miz,' 'La Cage Aux Folles' top Straz Broadway series 02/02/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 10:24pm]

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